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DNA Bill can be misused for caste-based profiling, says panel draft report

Topics Covered: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

DNA Bill can be misused for caste-based profiling, says panel draft report:


Context:

The parliamentary standing committee on science and technology headed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has raised few concerns over the DNA Bill.

They are:

  • DNA data could be misused for caste or community-based profiling.
  • The Bill refers to consent in several provisions, but in each of those, a magistrate can easily override consent, thereby in effect, making consent perfunctory (Meaning of perfunctory: performed merely as a routine duty; hasty and superficial).
  • There is also no guidance in the Bill on the grounds and reasons of when the magistrate can override consent, which could become a fatal flaw.
  • The Bill permits retention of DNA found at a crime scene in perpetuity, even if conviction of the offender has been overturned.
  • The Bill also provides that DNA profiles for civil matters will also be stored in the data banks, but without a clear and separate index.

Overview of the DNA Technology (Use And Application) Regulation Bill, 2019:

  1. It seeks to establish a national data bank and regional DNA data banks.
  2. It envisages that every databank will maintain indices like the crime scene index, suspects’ or undertrials’ index, offenders’ index, missing persons’ index and unknown deceased persons’ index.
  3. It also seeks to establish a DNA Regulatory Board. Every laboratory that analyses DNA samples to establish the identity of an individual, has to be accredited by the board.
  4. The bill also proposes a written consentby individuals be obtained before collection of their DNA samples. However, consent is not required for offences with punishment of more than seven years in jail or death.
  5. It also provides for the removal of DNA profiles of suspects on the filing of a police report or court order, and of undertrials on the basis of a court order. Profiles in the crime scene and missing persons’ index will be removed on a written request.

Sources: the Hindu.